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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - DAVOS: Jumeirah, the leading hotels and leisure group in the Middle East, is planning big developments in Saudi Arabia’s “mega-projects,” CEO Jose Silva told Arab News on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos.
“We must be in those locations, but I want to make sure we get the right ‘address.’ Jumeiah always wants to be among the top three sites on any location. If someone convinces me this is the right address, I will jump into it,” he said.
Silva made clear he was thinking primarily about the two big development on the Kingdom’s west coast — the NEOM metropolis and the Red Sea project further south along the coast. He is believed to be in contact with Saudi Arabian tourism authorities and potential partners in the Kingdom.
Silva also said that Jumeirah was keen to open hotels in Makkah and Madinah, which he called “preferred entry” points in the Kingdom. Work has already begun on two sites.
“It is very important for us to acquire the right assets and the right designers. Unless we control the architect, we will not do it. We have to be involved in the design process,” he said.
A big presence in Saudi Arabia would be part of the strategy of “going global” that Silva has advanced in his first two years a head of the UAE-based hotels, leisure and restaurants business, which is owned by the government
Last year, Jumeirah bought the Capri Palace on the eponymous Italian island, and is also involved in a major expansion plan in Asia, with six new projects underway in China, Indonesia and Malaysia.
Silva is also overseeing a $100 million renovation of the Carlton hotel in London’s Belgravia. Expansion via luxury hotel properties in other European capitals is also being considered.
In Dubai, he has brought in world-class managers to restaurants in the group’s flagship properties in Madinat and Burj Al Arab, with a clutch of “celebrity chefs” in place in restaurants there.
“We want to be the best brand for ‘destination dining’,” he said.
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